My ability to lose sight of my love of reading and writing never ceases to amaze me. At times, the strength of the connection between the two comes back at me two-fold, and I fall in love all over again. For example, years ago I read Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose. It forever changed the way I read and how I view the time I spend reading. If I were to make a list of books that profoundly shaped who I am today, it would certainly be at the top of the list. Currently, I am in the middle of rereading it. When I read it years ago, I borrowed it from the library and carefully noted its recommended reading list. Today I purchased the Kindle version for easy annotation (Kindle books versus traditional books is another blog post altogether – one I plan to write soon). I am picking it apart in hopes of learning why it resonated with me so deeply. That, in fact, is the entire point of the book. We learn to write by dissecting what we read.
Recently – as always – I came across the perfect books at the perfect time. I just finished The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller and Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller and Susan Kelley. Of course, there is a story behind my love of these books. Incidentally, I had the opportunity to hear Donalyn Miller speak at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) a few years ago while completing my teaching certificate. Knowing that she was to speak on encouraging students to read, I eagerly headed to SVSU on a cold, snowy Saturday morning hoping to learn more. I hoped to learn how to reach students who do not like to read. The entire concept of not loving – nevermind liking – to read is completely foreign to me. That day I left inspired to create an extensive classroom library in spite of the fact that I will not be teaching English Language Arts (ELA) classes, along with her latest book, and little else. She encouraged us all to reach those students who do not see the connection between reading and pleasure. Her ideas were (and are still) practical; however, I still was not convinced that I could make a difference as a non-ELA secondary teacher.
Fast-forward several years and my sister happens to mention the book The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. It immediately rings a bell, we discuss it, and I have to read it as soon as possible, along with the sequel. There is so much to discuss in both of Donalyn Miller’s books. The ideas she presents should be the focus of reading education, but that would require a fundamental shift in how reading is taught at all levels which is a shame. Both books deserve their own blog posts, as well as a post tying the two together. Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller and Susan Kelley inspired me to reread Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose. It is an example of what Donalyn Miller coins “wild reading” in action and demonstrates how “wild readers” stay inspired, continue reading, and challenge themselves. I am now convinced that I do indeed have a role to play.
Stay tuned for a series of posts discussing the many angles of all three books, as well as my own take on the importance of reading and writing in my life. It is taking center stage now for a variety of reasons. I am still patiently trying to create a writing and reading routine that works for me. I will not let this go. It is too important, and I have too much to say.